Another study, this time from Israel, shows that fish oils help to treat depression in people with low blood levels of that fatty acid.

Polyunsaturated fats are classified by their chemical structure into omega-3s and omega-6s. The healthful ratio is 1 to 2, but the average American takes in a ratio of 1 to 12 because we eat too much omega-6s from vegetable oils added to prepared foods such as bakery products. We get too little omega-3s because we don't eat enough deep-water fish and we remove the omega-3s from whole grains by removing the germ before whole grains are ground into flour. If you are depressed, ask your doctor to order blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid. If levels are low, you may benefit by eating more whole grains and fish and reducing your intake of fried and prepared foods, most of which have added vegetable oils.

Countries with high rates of fish oil consumption have low rates of depressive disorder. The authors studied a specific omega-3 fatty acid, the ethyl ester of eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA), as an adjunct to treatment for depressive episodes occurring in patients with recurrent unipolar depressive disorder who were receiving maintenance antidepressant therapy. Highly significant benefits of the addition of the omega-3 fatty acid compared with placebo were found by week 3 of treatment. Addition of omega-3 fatty acid to maintenance medication treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002, Vol 159, Iss 3, pp 477-479. B Nemets, Z Stahl, RH Belmaker. Belmaker RH, Beer Sheva Mental Hlth Ctr, POB 4600, Beer Sheva, ISRAEL

Checked 5/3/07

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